Oct 4, 2002
Tegan and Sara: It Takes Two
By Lauren Golfer
Senior staff writer
At 10 a.m. on a humid Friday morning, the phone rang five times before a
scratchy "Hello?" crackled through the handset. The voice on the other end
of the line belonged to Sara Kiersten Quin, one-half of the Calgary-born duo
Tegan and Sara.
At 22, twins Tegan and Sara have somewhat haphazardly landed careers in the
recording industry. Sara admitted the notion of growing up with the dream of
being a rock star "was like saying I was gonna turn my body inside out." Up
until winning a battle-of-the-bands show, Sara said her goal was "to go to a
university." Neither girl ever thought of pursuing music as a career before
Their musical style doesn't fit neatly into one genre, but the closest
you'll get to a category is punk-laced, acoustic folk-pop.
"When we were in high school," said Sara "we used to play more punk and rock
and pop. We started doing these shows and it kept getting more stripped down
'til we turned into a folk acoustic duo."
This Business of Art was released in 2000, mixing a handful of new songs
with a few from Feet, their debut. The album is no longer available for
sale, though Tegan and Sara don't mind if you steal it off the Internet.
"We don't necessarily encourage it, but we do kind of encourage it," said
Sara. "People would come up to us at shows and like be like, 'Oh, I bought
your [first] record on the Internet for $100,' and I'm like, 'Dude why
didn't you just download it?'"
Tegan and Sara's new album If It Was You was released this August, and
reveals a new edge to the singer/songwriters.
"We just focused on making a record that we liked to listen to. We were
going back to our roots," said Sara.
With a nearly violent surge of passion, Tegan and Sara harmonize beautifully
through the 12 short tracks. Where This Business of Art was somewhat lighter
and more pop-focused, If It Was You has a slightly harder sound to it,
making good use of the acoustic and electric guitars. The album's standout
track, "Living Room," boasts a fierce banjo.
Though the riffs are catchy and the melodies are pleasant, from the moment
the singing starts, it is apparent there's a great deal more behind Tegan
and Sara's voices than meets the ear. The sheer ferocity of the vocals is
taken right out of the early '90s surge of female punk bands that Sara lists
"When I got a little bit older," says Sara, "I remember me and Tegan getting
into punk, L7, Bikini Kill, because it was all of the girl music that was
out there at the time. I remember buying a Kill Rock Stars compilation and
being like, 'Wow who are all these bands?'"
Of course, if you give two talented girls with guitars a record deal, it is
almost guaranteed critics will immediately jump on the chance to shove their
music into the "another chick with a guitar" category.
In the abundantly male-dominated music industry, female artists are put into
one of two groups: Ani DiFranco wannabes or sexy pop stars. Tegan and Sara
have heard countless times: "You're acoustic folk, like Ani DiFranco," and
couldn't disagree more.
"We're doing our own thing, without the sex," protests Sara, "But that
doesn't make us Ani DiFranco. All we have in common is passion."
The two are gaining recognition for their live performances, laced with side
banter that only sisters can provide. Tegan and Sara are opening for Ryan
Adams tonight at the 9:30 Club, playing a sold out show. They're sure to
show you a good time and prove that the boys aren't the only ones who can